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Newsletter No.136


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                             FreePint
         "Helping 59,000 people use the Web for their work"
                     http://www.freepint.com/

ISSN 1460-7239                                    1st May 2003 No.136
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           ALTERNATIVE NEWSLETTER FORMATS AVAILABLE AT:
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/010503.htm>

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                           IN THIS ISSUE

                             EDITORIAL

                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                          By Phil Ruston

                           FREEPINT BAR
                    In Association with Factiva
                   a Dow Jones & Reuters Company

                               JOBS
                          Records Manager
                        Researcher/Librarian

                           TIPS ARTICLE
             "Risk Management: An Additional Axis For
                   Information Professionals?"
                         By Terry Kendrick
                         
                             BOOKSHELF
  "Building an Electronic Resource Collection - A Practical Guide"
                    Reviewed by Veronica Bezear

                          FEATURE ARTICLE
               "UK Freedom of Information Act 2000:
                    The Road To Implementation"
                          By Stephen Wood
                          
               EVENTS, GOLD AND FORTHCOMING ARTICLES

                        CONTACT INFORMATION

             ONLINE VERSION WITH ACTIVATED HYPERLINKS
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/010503.htm>
            
                      FULLY FORMATTED VERSION
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/010503.pdf>


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**FREE TRIAL OF COGENTA'S RESEARCH DIRECTOR TO FREEPINT MEMBERS ONLY**
Research Director is a desktop research management environment giving a
single point of access to your internal and external information
sources, even including subscription databases and the Deep Web. Create
your own 'intelligent agents' to do the research for you; run multiple
search queries simultaneously; store and manage your research and more.
This is far more than a meta-search tool.  For your free trial, go to:
http://www.cogenta.com/form/free_trial.htm

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                        >>>  ABOUT FREEPINT  <<<

FreePint is an online community of information researchers. Members
receive this free newsletter twice a month: it is packed with tips
on finding quality and reliable business information on the Internet.

Joining is free at <http://www.freepint.com/> and provides access to
a substantial archive of articles, reviews, jobs & events, with
answers to research questions and networking at the FreePint Bar.

Please circulate this newsletter which is best read when printed out.
To receive a fully formatted version as an attachment or a brief
notification when it's online, visit <http://www.freepint.com/member>.

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                             EDITORIAL

As you may know, I've been developing a train of thought over the last
few issues of FreePint. It all started with an observation that a lot
of people in the FreePint community have been asking about the skills
required to become a fully-fledged information professional. This
misguided me into thinking that anyone wanting to develop their
information-seeking skills wants to be part of the information
industry. They don't.

Moving the thinking on, and making a rash generalisation, it appears
that there are two levels of Internet researcher: those who focus on
information and online research for a living; and those who don't.

There seems to be agreement that information professionals have two
levels of responsibility. Firstly, a responsibility to themselves to
make sure they don't simply use Google but keep themselves up to date
with the alternatives (including  databases which are not indexed by
search engines). Secondly, in educating non-professional users of the
Web about the range of sources available and making them aware that
there are times when it's best to use a search intermediary who does
have this knowledge.

All I want to ask of non-professional information searchers is that
they are aware that there are professionals available to help and that
we're frustrated too at how difficult it can be to find information
online. For example, see the FreePint Bar thread on trying to construct
a detailed search query in Google <http://www.freepint.com/go/b23381>.
As much as everyone moaned about how difficult it was to learn the
'command line' interfaces to commercial online databases, at least
you could construct a very detailed and precise search query.

Terry Kendrick expands some of these thoughts in today's tips article,
with a timely look at the skills information professionals can bring
to risk management. Since resources relating to the UK Freedom of
Information Act are discussed in today's feature, don't forget
to check out the forthcoming 'FreePint Freedom of Information
Exchange' <http://www.freepint.com/exchange/>.

We've had loads of nominations for the 'CILIP/FreePint Online
Community Award'. This is your chance to vote for any projects which
you feel have made the most of technology to bring groups of people
together online <http://www.freepint.com/events/cilip-2003/>.

Over the coming months we'll be proactively seeking your feedback
about the many things we do here at FreePint. We hope you will get
involved by telling us about the products and services you would like
to receive as a member of the FreePint community. In the meantime,
if you have any feedback about today's newsletter then please post
it at the Bar <http://www.freepint.com/go/b23542>.

Cheers
William

William Hann BSc(Hons) MCLIP
Founder and Managing Editor, FreePint
Email: <william.hann@freepint.com>   Tel: +44 (0)1784 420044

Free Pint is a Registered Trademark of Free Pint Limited (R) 1997-2003

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        FREE SITE ABOUT UNSTRUCTURED INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

Unstructured Information Management consists of the tools and methods
necessary to Store, Access & Retrieve, Navigate, and Discover Knowledge
in text-based information. Knowledge about this new area is rapidly
becoming a vital skill for all researchers and information
professionals <http://www.unstruct.org>.

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                   >>>  FreePint Financials  <<<
                   <http://www.freepint.com/icc>

    Research UK companies and company directors using FreePint's
     comprehensive database. It's free to search and see basic
        details. In-depth reports are available to purchase.

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                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                          By Phil Ruston

* ADVFN <http://www.advfn.com/> - My preferred choice for stock market
  quotes. If you can ignore the inevitable 'ramping', the bulletin
  boards can be a first for breaking company news.

* Motley Fool <http://www.fool.co.uk/> - The Fool doesn't take itself
  too seriously. Attend the Fool School to learn about investing and
  then consult the advice on how to get out of debt!

* Askalix <http://www.askalix.com/> - First port of call for checking
  company contact details. Produced in association with Dun &
  Bradstreet, Europe's largest online business directory usually comes
  up with the answer.

* BigCharts <http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/> - Excellent
  interactive charting and invaluable access to historical quotes.
  Complements Yahoo! Finance and keeps our student users very happy.

* Sporting Life <http://www.sporting-life.com/> - All the key sporting
  facts and figures in one place - the results service is incredibly
  fast. Almost compensates for the demise of the old print copy.

Phil Ruston works for the British Library Business Information
Service. He manages the business reading room and is responsible for
maintaining the pages at <http://www.bl.uk/bis>.

Submit your top five favourite Web sites. See the guidelines at
<http://www.freepint.com/author.htm>.

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                    See you at SLA in New York!
Factiva is proud to sponsor keynote speaker Madeleine Albright, the 
former US Secretary of State on Wednesday, June 11. In addition Factiva 
is also sponsoring two pre-conference events on Sunday, June 8 entitled
"Beyond Marketing: Consultative Strategies for Information
Professionals" and "Learning is Hot: Simple, Cost-Effective Tools & Tips
for Building Effective Learning Programs." 
To get more information, visit www.sla.org. Hope you can be there!

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                            FREEPINT BAR
                    In Association with Factiva
                   a Dow Jones & Reuters Company

The FreePint Bar seems to get a good mix of those topics which arise
time and again and those which are being discussed for the first time,
even after 20,000 questions and answers.

For the former, don't even mention the numerous 'Help with my
dissertation topic' postings at the Student Bar. For the latter,
though, there was an item recently about summarising newsgroup
discussions <http://www.freepint.com/go/b23353>. It's an interesting
question, especially since the prevalence of discussion groups and
blogs means we may yet need another level of such sites to summarise
the latest from the sites summarising the latest from other sites!

On other topics: Do you know of any research on the usability of
'rating' systems? <http://www.freepint.com/go/b23409>; How about the
cost savings of performing surgical procedures for outpatients rather
than inpatients? <http://www.freepint.com/go/b23478>.

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The FreePint Bar is a free resource for FreePinters to help each
other with information queries <http://www.freepint.com/bar>.

Help for students on information-related courses is available at the
FreePint Student Bar <http://www.freepint.com/student>.

To have the latest postings come to you automatically by email, sign
up for the twice-weekly email digest <http://www.freepint.com/member>.

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                           FREEPINT JOBS
                   <http://www.freepint.com/jobs>

FreePint Jobs -- information-related jobs in one place.

*  VACANCY SEARCHING -- free search and set up a weekly alert profile.
*  VACANCY RECRUITING -- post a vacancy for GBP 195 (EUR 285, USD 300).

This week's selected listings are below. All new jobs are posted to
the Bar and Bar Digest (circulation 10,000+). This week's is at
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b23515> and last week's at
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b23437>.

Here are some of the latest featured jobs:

Records Manager
  Exciting RM role at top bank, jointly managing the team & responsible
  for workflows & quality - great salary & benefits on offer.
  Recruiter: Sue Hill Recruitment
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/j2437>

Researcher/Librarian
  Bright Researcher required by friendly, niche North London Human
  Resources Consultancy. 
  Recruiter: Glen Recruitment
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/j2431>

                [The above jobs are paid listings]

       Find out more today at <http://www.freepint.com/jobs>

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           >>>  Unstructured Information Management  <<<
                  NEW MARKET AND TECHNOLOGY GUIDE

This report discusses the current software market for
Unstructured Information Management products.

It is intended as a tutorial and market guide on how to select
a solution suitable for dealing with unstructured textual information.
The current state of the market is evaluated and recommendations are
given on which types of systems are most suitable for different tasks. 

      <http://www.freepint.com/banners/click.php?bannerID=46>

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                            TIPS ARTICLE
         <http://www.freepint.com/issues/010503.htm#tips>
             "Risk management: an additional axis for
                   information professionals?"
                         By Terry Kendrick

Information professionals are increasingly recognising that
information only has significant value when it is being used.
Collections and access to databases do have some intrinsic value but
will often, in themselves, be judged more as a cost than a value.

The trick for information professionals, of course, is to base their
activities clearly and unambiguously around moving their organisations
forward. Weasel words such as "added value" are to be avoided as,
often, these no longer have the desired effect of a decade ago unless
backed up with real outcomes. Much better is to clearly find the axes
of value creation in the organisation (doesn't matter if it is a "for
profit" or "not for profit" organisation - these axes will be there)
and lock your services on to these axes.

In recent times risk management has become a central concern of most
organisations, whether in the private or public sector. This is
certainly evident in my consulting activities where I see risk
management now as a fundamental part of board and senior management
team responsibilities.

However, although "front of mind" in many organisations, there appears
to be little formal relationship between risk management and in-house
information services. A number of parts of the information supply
chain have recognised this need and are now offering products directly
supporting risk management activities. See Lexis Nexis' 'Thindex' as
an example of this <http://www.lexisnexis.com/riskwise/thindex>. Are
library and information units offering risk management support? Or are
we being bypassed in the supply chain for risk management information
support?

Clearly here is an opportunity to align the information service with a
core organisational concern. To simply believe that, implicitly,
the information service is there to support these concerns is to miss
a great opportunity to make the connection explicit. Organisations
have to manage risk; and the process of identifying, analysing,
evaluating, treating and monitoring risk is very information-intensive.
Why wait for the board or senior managers to recognise your role? Push it.

A number of factors in the organisational environment have combined to
catapult risk management onto the management team agenda. These
factors include:

* Political unrest / terrorism
* Industry rivalry requiring more risks to be taken to win good business
* Globalisation
* Corporate governance / recent scandals
* Stakeholders expectations (in both profit and non-profit organisations)

The UK government is also keen to improve its responses to risk and in
November 2002 the Cabinet Office published its extensive report on
"Risk: improving government's capability to handle risk and
uncertainty" <http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation/2002/risk/risk/home.html>.

Every process and activity within an organisation has risk associated
with it. Some of the more immediate risks are:

* Strategic positioning, development, deployment, reputation and
  review
* Corporate governance: accounting, disclosure, regulatory & compliance
* Market (financial): interest rates, credit risks, currency risk,
  investments, liquidity
* Operations: process risk, supply chain risks
* Systems and information technology
* Human resources and management, labour strikes
* Market (marketing) - new product development, choice of segment
  (geographic, behavioural), changes in consumer acceptance, product
  choice, pricing choice, channel choices, promotional choices,
  sales practices
* Environmental risks
* Intellectual property protection
* Others!

Most of the major management consultancies now have risk management
products on the market. Ernst & Young have developed proprietary
methodology and tools, such as Risk Universe(TM) framework for
classifying risks, a complexity-modelling tool to identify risk
interdependencies, and RISKWeb(TM) technology to manage, monitor and
report on risks (search from <http://www.ey.com>). Price Waterhouse
Coopers are another example of a consultancy with a thriving risk
management division (search for Global Risk Management Solutions from
<http://www.pwcglobal.com>). All of these consultancy models are
extremely information intensive and involve risks such as strategic,
operational, financial, compliance, reputational and environmental.

In September 2002 The Institute of Risk Management (IRM), The
Association of Insurance and Risk Managers (AIRMIC), and 'ALARM: The
National Forum for Risk Management in the Public Sector', published
the new 'Risk Management Standard'. It is clear that risk management
is becoming a potential catalyst for some organisations.

The information professional's contribution to the effective
deployment of risk management could be significant. Here are a few
initial ideas based around a potential risk management process:

* Identifying risks - traditional information search and retrieval
* Analysing risks - turning information into intelligence
* Evaluating risks - putting this intelligence in the context of the
  organisation's ability to reach its objectives
* Treating risks - identifying ways to support the management of risks
* Monitoring risks - providing traditional current awareness and
  selective dissemination of information services

The information professional may already be doing some of these
support services already. Good. However, we may need to redefine
some of our service offerings to reflect new terminologies and
concepts whilst essentially using many of our core skills. It is as
much about the way we do it as what we actually do.

It is evident that the information professional's natural skill base
will be stretched and challenged by the range of responses that can
make an input to risk management. However, with the right skill set,
information professionals are in a good position to help organisations
deal with risk in a meaningful way.

The killer skill set to develop is:

* Understanding of underlying risk management models to ensure
  that you are speaking the right language
* Information search tools and techniques should be nothing
  less than leading edge
* Analysis and interpretation skills may need to be developed further
  as information professionals develop from 'gophers' (go for it and
  bring it back) to 'consultants' (problem solving in context)
* Presentation skills - remembering information only has value in 
  context and use

If you have a Chief Risk Officer or something similar, make contact
today. They could be anywhere in the organisation from finance to
their own department. They may be functional or enterprise-wide.
They will be in profit and non-profit organisations. Chances are
though that somebody somewhere has a clear responsibility for keeping
the senior management team appraised on risks and their management.
And you can be sure that they need all the information help and
support they can get.

Get up to speed quickly -- select bibliography and webliography:


Bibliography
------------

Shimell, Pamela (2001). The Universe of Risk: How Top Business Leaders
Control Risk and Achieve Success. Financial Times Prentice Hall;
ISBN: 0273656422

Bernstein, P. L. (1998). Against the gods: the remarkable story of
risk. John Wiley & Sons Inc; ISBN: 0471295639


Webliography
------------

AIRMIC's "Risk Management Standard" September 2002
<http://www.airmic.com/RiskManagementStandard.asp#insiderms>

Institute of Risk Management <http://www.theirm.org>
Association of Insurance and Risk Managers <http://www.airmic.com>
Association of Local Authority Risk Managers <http://www.alarm-uk.com>

Examples of private sector risk management companies with content rich
websites:

      <http://www.riskinfo.com>
      <http://www.riskworld.com>
      <http://www.riskwaters.com>

Examples of recent reports by consultancies (check out their sites,
free copies may still be available online. These things come and go!):

2002. Managing risk in Europe 2002: a survey of mid sized firms.
      London, Marsh.

2002. Strategic Risk Management: new disciplines, new opportunities.
      Boston, CFO Publishing Corp.

2001. Understanding enterprise risk management: an emerging model for
      building shareholder value, KPMG.

2000. Risk management and the value added by internal audit, Institute
      of Chartered Accountants.

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Terry Kendrick is Director of Information Now Ltd
<http://www.terrykendrick.co.uk>. He originally trained as a librarian
in the late 1970s but since the mid 1980s has been freelance initially
as an information broker and, since 1990 as a marketing planning
consultant. He has worked on assignments for over 50 large
organisations in 17 different countries. He still maintains close
contact with the library and information world and regularly presents
workshops for the Chartered Institute of Library and Information
Professionals (CILIP) as well as doing occasional strategic
planning-related consultancy for library and information services.

Terry teaches modules on the University of East Anglia executive MBA
and is currently undertaking a PhD in risk management applications
in strategic marketing planning.

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Related FreePint links:

* 'Information and Libraries' articles in the FreePint Portal
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/p69>
* Post a message to the author, Terry Kendrick, or suggest further
  resources at the FreePint Bar <http://www.freepint.com/bar>
* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/010503.htm#feature>
* Access the entire archive of FreePint content
  <http://www.freepint.com/portal/content/>

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        >>>  The CILIP/FreePint Online Community Award  <<<

    Since group communication and support online have become so
  important, the Online Community Award is your chance to nominate
   any online community project from any sector that has brought
  people with common interests together in a virtual environment:

           <http://www.freepint.com/events/cilip-2003/>

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                         FREEPINT BOOKSHELF
                <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
  "Building an Electronic Resource Collection - A Practical Guide"
                      Written by Stuart D Lee
                    Reviewed by Veronica Bezear

This book advertises itself as a step-by-step guide for those new to
the field of e-collection development, and a useful source of best
practice for the more experienced professional. It fulfils both of
these criteria in a surprisingly small number of pages (125pp for the
body, 147pp including glossary and index).

In only five chapters the author covers: a brief history of electronic
publishing; key differences between electronic and traditional
collection building; an overview of what resources are on offer;
specific advice on e-books and e-journals; and detailed step by step
advice on assessing, acquiring and finally delivering the dataset
(one thing to get used to when reading this book is the author's use
of the word 'dataset' instead of 'electronic resource').

This is very much a book that can be read sequentially, although it
falls naturally into two parts - background to be aware of before you
start the process, then a detailed guide through the process,
including clear flowcharts to summarise key points.

It covers its subject thoroughly and when an aspect is not dealt with
the reader is normally referred to another publication where they
will find information on it if required. The style of the book is
no-nonsense and practical just as the title suggests. The layout
is clear and spacious.

Particular features which I found helpful were: flowcharts explaining
key stages of the processl; an overall summary of the steps to take in
the process, which strangely does not form a chapter in its own right;
a glossary of terms; and a rich bibliography including organisations
and mailing lists as well as articles and books, with most items on
the list including web addresses. Interestingly, however, bearing in
mind the subject matter, the book does not appear to have an
accompanying website of its own.

My favourite section was some common-sense advice on licence
agreements and what you should expect them to state clearly. Amongst
other aspects this included usage statistics that will be provided,
user support available and guarantees of long-term access to the
material. This is probably one of the first sections I would refer
to if buying a new electronic resource, along with its excellent
evaluation checklist, which the author acknowledges is composed of
work collated from other institutions.

There is, perhaps a slight bias in the book towards academic
institutions, but this is only really noticeable in the references and
examples given and does not limit the usefulness of the book. I have
no hesitation in recommending this book both as a quick read to get an
overview of the subject and also as something to keep as a handy
reference tool to refer to when required.

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Veronica Bezear is an Information Officer working for Surrey County
Council's Adults and Community Care service. She writes here in a
personal capacity.

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Related FreePint links:

* Find out more about this book online at the FreePint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/build.htm>
* Read customer comments and buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
  <http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/185604422X/freepint0c>
* "Building an Electronic Resource Collection: A Practical Guide".
  ISBN 185604422X, published by Facet Publishing, written by
  Stuart D. Lee
* Search for and purchase any book from Amazon via the FreePint
  Bookshelf at <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
* Read about other Internet Strategy books on the FreePint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/strategy.htm>

To propose an information-related book for review, send details
to <bookshelf@freepint.com>.

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         >>>  FreePint Freedom of Information Exchange  <<<
                     22nd July 2003, London, UK

This seminar will provide an overview of the Freedom of Information
Act. The session will cover: practical issues to consider when
implementing FOI; discrepancies between the Data Protection and
Freedom of Information regimes; the role of the publication scheme;
records management issues; handling FOI requests; right of appeal,
complaints procedures & compliance matters; copyright issues.

          <http://www.freepint.com/exchange/fi220703.htm>

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                           FEATURE ARTICLE
         <http://www.freepint.com/issues/010503.htm#feature>
               "UK Freedom of Information Act 2000:
                    The Road To Implementation"
                          By Stephen Wood

Introduction
------------

In March 2001 Richard Wakeford wrote an article in FreePint
<http://www.freepint.com/issues/150301.htm> outlining the key issues
surrounding Freedom of Information (FOI). This article aims to look at
the UK Freedom of Information Act two years on from this date as UK
public sector authorities plan and develop strategies to ensure full
compliance with the Act by the final deadlines in 2005.

The UK Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 gives citizens access to
information held by public authorities, enabling them to participate
"in the discussion of policy issues and so improve the quality of
government decision making" and "holding government and other bodies
to account". It applies to all public authorities in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland (Scotland is implementing its own legislation).
Details of all the bodies covered are listed in the full text
<http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/20000036.htm>.
Secondary legislation has also been passed since 2000 covering issues
such as the timetable for implementation and fees regulations
(currently in draft form) <http://www.lcd.gov.uk/foi/secleg.htm>.


Background
----------

Since Wakeford's article, Government responsibility for the Freedom of
Information Act (and Data Protection) has switched from the Home
Office to the Lord Chancellor's Department
<http://www.lcd.gov.uk/foi/>. The Information Commissioner
<http://www.dataprotection.gov.uk> is responsible for the enforcement
of the Act and the promotion of good practice across the public
sector.

A detailed examination of the many features of the Act is not possible
within the scope of this article. For a detailed critique, the article
by Tom Cornford -- "The Freedom of Information Act 2000: genuine or
sham?" (Web Journal of Legal issues, June 2001)
<http://webjcli.ncl.ac.uk/2001/issue3/cornford3.html> is recommended.

There is now a statutory right of access to information for UK
citizens for the first time. The scope is wider than many other
comparable FOI schemes from central departments such as the Treasury
to schools, hospital and universities. Less welcome features of the
Act are the restrictive nature of many exemptions to disclosure,
policy information in particular and the right of Government ministers
to intervene to sign certificates to stop the release of information.
The key issue in the early stages of the operation of the Act after
2005 will be how the phrase "would, or would be likely to, prejudice
the specified interest" will be interpreted by the authorities
concerned and the Information Commissioner in the enforcement role.
How the public interest test will be applied to certain non-blanket
exemptions to force release will also be an important testing point.

The timetable for implementation was released in November 2001; it
proposed staged implementation of the Act as follows:

* November 2002: Central government publication schemes
* February 2003: Local government publication schemes
* June 2003: Police and CPS publication schemes
* October 2003: Health service publication schemes
* February 2004: Schools, universities and any remaining authorities
  publication schemes
* January 2005: Full implementation - full legally enforceable right of
  access to information - authorities will have to deal with requests

The timetable allows for a phased implementation and an opportunity
for training and new practices for records management to be put in
place. However there has been criticism for such a delay. The
Campaign for Freedom of Information <http://www.cfoi.org.uk> called
the delay "totally unjustifiable", citing the 12 month implementation
period in Canada and Ireland. The cynical amongst us may point out
that the 2005 implementation date may also prevent any damaging
releases before a likely general election in 2005.

Until the full right of access comes into force in 2005 the current
non-statutory Code of Practice on Access to Government Information
will operate for Central Government and related agencies
<http://www.lcd.gov.uk/foi/codpracgi.htm>. The Code currently has a
low profile and in 2001 there were 4668 requests under the Code
compared with 5969 in 2000
<http://www.lcd.gov.uk/foi/codprac01/codprac01.pdf>.


Publication Schemes
-------------------

In terms of current activity visible to the public, publication
schemes will have the most impact until 2005, when full rights to
request information come into force. Publication schemes specify the
classes of information that the public authority publishes or intends
to publish, specify the manner in which information in each class will
be published and specify whether the material is intended to be
available to the public free of charge or on payment. All publication
schemes must be approved by the Information Commissioner. A
publication scheme can be in the form of a hard or electronic copy.

As stated in the timetable, two types of publication scheme are
currently available: central government and local government. One of
the most comprehensive is the scheme from the Ministry of Defence,
who have developed a dedicated website for FOI and their publication
scheme <http://www.foi.mod.uk>. The scheme uses a taxonomy and allows
searching, and offers a new perspective in drawing together the wide
range of information the MOD publishes.

The profile of the schemes appears to differ, with only some
Departments offering a clear link from their home pages. The quality
of the information architecture and usability would also appear to
vary greatly.

Publication schemes clarify the right of the public to access
information free of charge, for example the HM Treasury scheme states
they will supply a printed copy free of charge of any document on
their website to those without Internet access
<http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/about/publication_scheme/about_pub_detail.cfm>.

Local authority schemes have been public since February 2003 and have
also made use of the web as the primary route for accessing schemes.
The Local Government Association 
<http://www.lga.gov.uk/OurWork.asp?lsection=59&ccat=716> has been
playing an important role in developing Local Government schemes,
using several councils as pilot schemes. Again the prominence of
publication schemes from authority to authority tends to differ. Many
schemes are hard to find and are often not available under "Freedom of
Information" in A-Z indexes. West Sussex council
<http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/yourcouncil/ppri/foi/home.htm> has used 
the tools made available by APLWAS (Accessible and Personalised
Local Authority Websites) <http://www.aplaws.org.uk>, the information
management tools they make available include a category list. Sussex
developed their own category list from this and included citizen focus
groups in their testing.

In Higher Education, the Joint Information Systems Council (JISC) are
coordinating work on a model publication scheme for HE that will have
to be approved by the Information Commissioner. This scheme is
currently in draft format
<http://www.jisc.ac.uk/legal/index.cfm?name=lis_free>.

It is currently unclear what plans there are in providing a central
website that will act as a routemap for the 88,000 or so publication
schemes that will have to be implemented. A list of the "first wave"
of publication schemes is available on the Information Commissioner's
website <http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/psfw.html> though
without the relevant links to the schemes.


Implications
------------

Freedom of Information will place a new focus on Information retrieval
in the public sector. Research completed by the Home Office as
preparation to the Act estimated that there would be approximately
40,000 requests in the first year of operation. A research report on
public sector preparation by Anite <http://www.aniteps.com> (IT
applications supplier) in 2002 highlighted that many organisations
were slipping behind schedule and less than half the organisations
affected by the Act were making real progress. Also, half the
respondents saw the responsibility as a legal issue lying with their
legal department.

There are major implications for UK public authorities in terms of the
new emphasis that has to be placed on records management. To quote
the Public Records Office (PRO) "Any freedom of information
legislation is only as good as the quality of the records to which it
provides access". The LA Record in January 2002 talked of a "boom
time" for records managers in light of the Freedom of Information Act.

The target for all Government records being managed electronically by
2004 is a key part of the strategy in ensuring the success of the Act.
There is a Code of Practice on records management under section 46 of
the Freedom of Information Act
<http://www.pro.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/foicode.htm>. The PRO
provides a wide range of invaluable guidance and advice on records
management, generally
<http://www.pro.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/default.htm> and specially
focused on FOI
<http://www.pro.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/access/default.htm>, in
particular model action plans on records management for different
sectors. There is also advice available on selecting an electronic
records management (ERM) system that is compliant with the PRO,
including functional requirements and lists of approved suppliers.

One of the key issues for those requesting information under the Act
will be finding a routemap through the maze of government boundaries
and information types, and ascertaining the types of information held.
The inforoute project for central government, developed by HMSO
<http://www.inforoute.hmso.gov.uk/> offers a way to search for
information held by government departments but not routinely
published. The project has been developed around a core meta data
standard for the contributing departments and offers an important
insight to understanding the work of a department before submitting a
request. This should hopefully help the speed and clarity of the
request for both the requester and public authority.

There are clear training needs for public authorities to ensure staff
understand FOI and how it effects their work. Courses are now
available from companies such as TFPL <http://www.tfpl.com> and ASLIB
<http://www.aslib.co.uk>. A more legal approach is available from law
firms such as Masons <http://www.masons.com>.

Many organisations will be able to learn much from the experience of
complying with terms of the 1998 Data Protection Act with regards to
records management, cultural change and training. Early evidence is
pointing towards many organisations combining responsibility for Data
Protection and Freedom of Information.


Implications for Business
-------------------------

One of the key implications for business is from the angle of competitive
intelligence: the information your competitors may be able to gain
about your business activities from information you have shared with
UK public authorities and vice versa. The Constitution unit at UCL
has produced a useful guide entitled "A guide for business to the
Freedom of Information Act" <http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit>.
There are clear implications for information transfer policies and
procedures between private and public sector. All organisations are
recommended to review this area before 2005.

Awareness amongst the business community at present does not appear to
be high and there is much to be learned from the experience of
business in Ireland in the way the Freedom of Information Act has been
used. In Ireland for example in 2000 an individual sought copies of
invoices paid to 18 telecommunications companies by the Irish
Government. Eircom plc argued the records were commercially sensitive.
Despite the possible competitive damage, the Irish Information
Commissioner ruled that the it was in the public interest to release.
Further examples can be found on the index of decisions available on
Irish Information Commissioner's website
<http://www.oic.gov.ie/220e_3C2.htm>.


Conclusion
----------

David Clarke, the Minister who initiated the work on preparing Freedom
of Information Act back in 1997, points to the challenges ahead. In
conversation with the author in 1999, Clarke stated "I think we are one
of the most secretive of all modern industrial societies, that culture
has got to change". The UK Freedom of Information Act has the
potential to transform the relationship between society and
government in terms of transparency and openness, leading to more
dialogue, informed policy and decision making. The scope of the Act
is truly impressive from schools to central government departments,
however Richard Thomas, the new Information Commissioner, has a vital
role to play in interpreting the nature of "Public Interest". In terms
of preparation, records management lies at the heart of the success
of the Freedom of Information Act.

The implementation of the Act over the next few years is a vital
period in terms of clear routes to information being available when
requests start. The low profile of publication schemes currently does
not bode well for starting to raise the public profile of FOI.
Information about effectiveness at present is not available. The
ease of navigation of these schemes will be vital: in terms of
taxonomy development, information professionals have a vital role to
play. The profession as a whole also has to make great efforts to
promote the Act and the benefits, plus lobby for legal enhancements
and improvements when necessary.


Finally
-------

A quick plug for a new Web Log I have set up on FOI:
<http://foia.blogspot.com> containing news, views and information about
FOI developments in the UK. Please email me with any information for
inclusion.

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The 'FreePint Freedom of Information Exchange' takes place in London
on the 22nd July 2003 <http://www.freepint.com/exchange/fi220703.htm>.

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Steve Wood, Lecturer in Information Management, School of Business
Information, Liverpool John Moores University <http://www.livjm.ac.uk>.
Email <steve_wood62@hotmail.com>.

Steve lectures on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes on web
development and management, knowledge management, network management
and information policy. Research interests include knowledge
management and freedom of information legislation. Before moving into
academia Steve worked for HM Treasury as Intranet and extranet
manager.

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Related FreePint links:

* 'Law and Law Enforcement' articles in the FreePint Portal
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/p67>
* Post a message to the author, Steve Wood, or suggest further
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Here are some library and information events scheduled for May 2003:

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The Scottish Law Librarians Group have organised a full day course
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If you are in California on the 19th-22th May go along to 'CPweek:
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The Society of Public Information Networks (SPIN) have organised
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Submit details of your event today for free promotion. Simply
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                          FREEPINT GOLD

Mike Mecham touched on international law sites in his tips article in
FreePint No.111 and Laurel A. Clyde looked at Weblogs, what they are,
types, how they are created.

* FreePint No.111 2nd May 2002. "International Law" and "Weblogs and
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Two years ago Trevor Harvey's looked at investment sites. Gil Feiler
wrote about the development of Middle East business sites.

* FreePint No.86, 26th April 2001. "Investment Funds" and "Searching
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In 2000, Emma Turner and Karyn Meaden wrote a tips article on aviation
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* FreePint No.61, 27th April 2000. "Top sites on the Web for Air
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Four years ago Richard Nelsson listed the places where mountaineers,
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* FreePint No.37, 29th April 1999. "Finding Outdoor Information on
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In 1998 Martin White wrote on the importance of creating an effective
intranet. FreePint's William Hann wrote about a new product from IAC.

* FreePint No.13, 30th April 1998. "Intranet Resources on the Web"
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                    Penny <penny@freepint.com>

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                              GOODBYE

If you have any feedback about today's FreePint then please do put
it up at the FreePint Bar <http://www.freepint.com/go/b23542>.

                       See you in two weeks!

                   William Hann, Managing Editor
                    <william.hann@freepint.com>

(c) Free Pint Limited 1997-2003 <http://www.freepint.com/>
Technology by Willco <http://www.willco.com/>

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